Questions for the BIM Gathering

Deke Smith, Laura Lee, Gregory Howell, Laura Handler, David Philp and I will be keynoting Ireland’s Construction IT Alliance’s BIM Gathering in Dublin, November 14th and 15th, 2013. The ambitious program, entitled: Leveraging Building Information Modeling to Create Cultural and Lean Transformation of the AEC Sector, offers a unique opportunity to explore the future of the industry, both in Ireland and worldwide.

While exploring the state of things in Ireland and discussing the current environment with my Irish friends, I have started to frame a few of the questions that the Gathering will explore:

  • Can the Irish motivate BIM from within… to do more with less, in a tightly constrained fiscal environment?
  • Is there a willingness and ability to adapt; to do things that have never been done before; to bring people together from the public and private sectors… to become more transparent and inclusive?
  • Can Ireland find ways to share and use data… to greatly reduce errors and improve the built world?
  • Can the Irish link sensor data, environmental data, business process data and facilities’ data to become more efficient and effective… to reduce waste and become more sustainable?
  • What changes will make Irish building professionals the leaders for this new age that revolves around virtual models that make it possible to share information through the entire built environment?

Outside of the building industry many of these questions are already being answered. Imagine using paper or CD catalogues of airfares, a travel agent and the telephone to book your next trip. How long would it take to make your booking? What happens when you wish to explore multiple options? The travel industry has changed to allow us to do such tasks in real-time.

  • Why not do the same type of thing in the Irish building industry?

My Irish friends tell me that the Irish building industry is unsettled. That few understand what is required for the building industry to benefit from the information that surrounds us. That planning, design and construction remain linear and disconnected. They believe that the Irish building industry continues to be wasteful and inefficient. Yet, change is upon us, NOW!

In the United States, we are talking too much to ourselves about design and construction and often not to the larger picture or long range potential of new tools and processes to reshape the built world.

  • Is the same true in Ireland?

Many in the industry continue to have problems making intelligent decisions about how to embrace the changes brought by technology in the built environment. Changing paths can be difficult. It sometimes seems as though it is not so much about, “Show me the facts, and I will get with the program,” as “Nothing that you show me will ever change my mind.” Evidence seems to have no power for some people.

  • Into which camp do Irish politicians and construction professionals fall?

These are the questions that the BIM Gathering can address. Through unabashed self-interest, storytelling, testimonials, proven metrics, positive peer pressure, and the sheer power of money, industry processes are changing. As more people understand and embrace the power and benefits that are available today, we are moving toward a world of greater certainty of outcomes.

  • Will Ireland become a leader in the change?

Join us in Dublin in November, and together we will try to understand these questions and many more.

—Finith Jernigan, FAIA